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20 July 2018 Photo Leonie Bolleurs
Research informs about sustainable use of fresh water for food production
Conducting research on the topic of water-footprint assessment, are from the left: Dr Enoch Owusu-Sekyere, Dr Henry Jordaan, study leader and Senior Lecturer in the UFS Department of Agricultural Economics, Dr Frikkie Maré (Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics), and Adetoso Adetoro.

The fact that South Africa is a water-scarce country has been highlighted during the past couple of years, and even city dwellers were suddenly very aware of the drought due to the strict water restrictions. These are the words of Dr Frikkie Maré, Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of the Free State (UFS) and one of the graduates who received his PhD on water-footprint assessment studies at the recent June 2018 graduations.

The department is currently involved in various water-footprint and water-management research projects which assist in providing solutions for better water management in the future. “As department, we want to be at the forefront of research that will assist all agricultural producers with sustainable production practices to ensure economic, environmental, and social sustainable food and fibre products for the society at large,” said Dr Maré.

Research funded by Water Research Commission

The UFS recently conferred two PhD degrees (Drs Enoch Owusu-Sekyere and Frikkie Maré) and one master’s degree (Adetoso Adetoro) in the Department of Agricultural Economics. All three have been working in the field of water-footprint assessment. The research formed part of two different projects that were initiated and funded by the Water Research Commission.

According to Dr Henry Jordaan, Senior Lecturer in this department, four of his students already received their master’s degrees on the topic of water-footprint assessment, while two students are busy with PhDs and three more are working on their master’s degrees.

Topic gains momentum in research community
The water-footprint concept serves as a useful indicator to sensitise society about the impact of the food we eat on scarce freshwater resources – from agricultural producers using water to produce primary food crops and products on the farm, to the end consumer buying the food products in the retail store in town.

“Water-footprint assessment is a relatively new field aimed at informing the sustainable use of fresh water for food production. This topic is gaining momentum in the research community, given the substantial increase in the global population in the context of freshwater resources that is getting increasingly scarce. The challenge is to feed the growing population while still using the scarce freshwater resources sustainably.

Volume of water used to produce food

“In order to inform water users on how to use the resource sustainably, it is important to know the volume of water that was used to produce the required food products. Through our research, we are contributing to this knowledge by assessing the volume of water that was used to produce selected products, and to interpret the water use in the context of water availability to gain insight into the degree of sustainability with which the resource is used. The results are expected to inform water users, water managers, and policy makers regarding the sustainable use of fresh water for food production,” said Dr Jordaan.

News Archive

Students excel in legal interpreting programme
2010-02-24

Prof. Ezekiel Moraka, Vice-Rector: External Relations at the UFS with one of the students who received a diploma.
Photo: Mangaliso Radebe


A success rate of 90% was achieved by the first group of 100 students that successfully completed the two-year Diploma in Legal Interpreting at the University of the Free State (UFS).

The group recently received their diplomas at the ceremony held on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein.

The programme, offered by the university’s Department of Afroasiatic Studies, Sign Language and Language Practice, in collaboration with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA), is the only one of its kind in South Africa.

“The numbers that we are talking about here, if one looks at the needs of the country as such, is a small fraction,” said Advocate Simon Jiyane, Deputy Director General: Court Services in the Department of Justice.

“This is our first programme in collaboration with the UFS and I am hopeful it will lay a very solid foundation for other such programmes to follow.”

The diplomas were conferred by Prof. Ezekiel Moraka, Vice-Rector: External Relations at the UFS, on behalf of the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Jonathan Jansen.

He urged the students to use their skills as qualified court interpreters in the context of the challenges that face South Africa such as HIV/Aids, racism, transformation, unemployment, poverty, job losses, and many other such challenges.

“This is the reality we are faced with, all of us,” he said. “It requires skilful and morally upright people to address it adequately and effectively. You are adding up to the number of skilful people in our country and that means you have a critical role to play.”

He said the UFS, as a societal structure, is equally affected by those challenges because of being accountable to and economically dependent on society.

He also urged the students to use their skills to make contributions to the processes of transformation that are underway at the UFS.

“For instance, the UFS as a national asset has to transform to that level of being a true national asset. We need your full participation in this process so that we can together ensure the relevance of this university as a true South African university,” he said.

Advocate Jiyane urged universities to also look at some of the initiatives that the government takes to improve service delivery. One such initiative is a pilot project focusing on the use of indigenous languages in courts.

“Its aim is to ensure that our courts begin to recognise all official languages in terms of conducting their business,” he said.

“It is our responsibility as a department that, through this project, we begin to build those languages so that they are on a par with the other languages that are being utilised in our courts.”

The department has permanently employed two of the students who received their diplomas, while one of them, Ms Nombulelo Esta Meki, was awarded a bursary by SASSETA to study for a BA in Legal Interpreting. Ms Meki was the top achiever of the programme with an average of 86%.

Media Release:
Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt@ufs.ac.za  
3 March 2010

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